Bayard Rustin, on Netflix, too wise biopic of a civil rights activist

Bayard Rustin, on Netflix, too wise biopic of a civil rights activist

Educational and conventional, this portrait of someone close to Martin Luther King is nevertheless served by the charisma of Colman Domingo.

Bayard Rustin is the great forgotten in the history of the fight for civil rights, but Barack Obama is working on his posterity: after having awarded him, posthumously, the Medal of Freedom in 2013, the former president produced this biopic, via his Higher Ground box. An activist advocating civil disobedience at the risk of his life, close to Martin Luther King, a homosexual, Rustin was the main architect of the March on Washington of August 28, 1963 – that of “I have a dream”. George C. Wolfe (The Blues of Ma Rainey) paints his portrait in a film that is too wise, a sixties reconstruction well on point co-written by the specialist in the history of LGBTQ+ struggles Dustin Lance Black (Harvey Milk, When we rise).

Bayard Rustin: After Walking Dead and Euphoria, Colman Domingo on his way to the Oscars

The story works to intertwine the big story with Rustin’s personal torments, while detailing the bag of political knots that had to be overcome to bring the March to a successful conclusion – the kind of tangles that an Aaron Sorkin could have made his honey. . The tone is intended to be exhilarating, galvanizing, “inspiring”, but the film is lost in a meager climax which does not at all manage to convey the scale of the event, which was attended by more than 200,000 people. Bayard Rustin consoles itself by seeing itself above all as a vehicle for its star Colman Domingo (Zendaya’s “sponsor” in Euphoria), actually very good, charismatic and moving, even if the film cheats a little by asking everyone else around him to keep a low profile – which forces Aml Ameen to compose a Martin Luther King who is a little too dim to be historically correct .

Bayard Rustinby George C. Wolfe, with Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman… On Netflix.

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